One of my favorite jewelry books, Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay, briefly highlights ten famous diamonds at the end of the book. Always a source of fascination, large diamonds and the stories behind them never cease to incite vagaries of exotic lands, ancient mines and highly decorated maharajahs from centuries past.
To that end, I’d like to share those particular diamonds for today’s post.
Braganza: 1680 carats rough. Brazil circa 1800. Found by convicts; owned by Portuguese kings; at the time said to have been the largest rough ever found. Lost now; might have been a topaz anyway.
Cullinan I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX: 3,106 carats rough – “the size of half a brick.” Found in South Africa’s Premier mine, 1905. Given to King Edward VII and sent to England in an unregistered parcel. Split into nine major gems and ninety-six smaller brilliants. Largest is Cullinan I, 530 carats and set into the scepter of the British regalia. Kept in the Tower of London.
The Daily Mail wrote a detailed article on the Cullinan diamonds earlier in 2012, as they were on display last year in honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Another great website that goes into great detail of these historic diamonds is Famous Diamonds.
Dresden Green: green fancy, 49.21 carats, pear cut. Possibly Brazil, 1720s. The largest green diamond known. Taken to Moscow after the Second World War. Now back in Dresden’s Green Vault.
More on the Dresden Green.
Golden Jubilee: yellow fancy, 545.67 carats cut. South Africa, 1990s. The world’s largest faceted diamond. Cut by Gabi Tolkowsky in Antwerp and given to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand for his golden jubilee in 1996. Previously known as the “Unknown Brown.”
More on the Golden Jubilee
Great Mogul: 280 carats cut. India circa 1600. The biggest diamond found in India, recorded by J. B. Tavernier on India trip. Now lost. Perhaps became the Koh-i-Noor.
More on the Great Mogul
Hope: Blue fancy, 44.5 carats cut. India, seventeenth century or before. Owned mostly by kings, bankers, and heiresses. Said to be cursed.
More on the Hope
Koh-i-Noor: 108.93 carats cut. India, circa seventeenth century. Probably involved more scheming and torture than any other diamond. Name means “mountain of light” in Persian. Said to be unlucky if worn by a man, but in England it has been worn only by women: Queen Victoria, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth II. All long-lived.
More on the Koh-i-Noor
Regent: 410 carats rough. Also known as “The Pitt,” after Thomas Pitt, president of Fort Madras. Pitt was accused of stealing the diamond from a poor Indian; Alexander Pope wrote a poem about it. Sold to France and stolen in 1792 with French Crown Jewels. Later discovered in a Paris garret. Once represented two-thirds of the value of France’s Crown Jewels; now in the Louvre.
More on the Regent
Sancy: 55 carats, double-rose cut. Worn in a turban by King Henry III of France after he went bald at twenty-six. Lucky hatpin for King James I of England. Turbulent history; high body count. In the Louvre.
More on the Sancy
Star of the South: 128-carat “rose tint” brilliant. Brazil, eighteenth century. Found by a slave who was given her freedom. Owned by the Gaekwar of Baroda, in a Cartier setting. By 2004, Cartier owned it again.
More on the Star of the South